CanJam NYC 2024 Recap

CanJam shot from the floor

Well, the time has come and gone; another year’s CanJam has passed. It was great seeing the audio world come together in Times Square for another installment of the premier headphone audio show. I saw some familiar faces, got a close up look at some of the industry’s newest products, and of course, I listened to plenty of gear too. If you weren’t able to attend this year’s festivities, don’t fret, because I have plenty of impressions to share below. 


Fostex TH-808: Fostex’s newest release made an appearance at CanJam and I was excited to give them a try. Given Fostex’s reputation for bass-lovers’ headphones, and the fact that these use the same drivers as the TH900 series, I wasn’t too surprised to find a punchy and dynamic experience here. I was also quite impressed by the soundstage which sounded wide and natural. The only nitpick I have is that the treble was a little more forward than I typically like. It’s a balanced-to-v-shaped tuning that Fostex pulls off really nicely. Plus, I can’t complain about the look and feel of the headphone – the black walnut wood housings are beautiful and sturdy. 

Fostex TH808 Profile Shot

Meze Liric II: We covered the Liric II already on Major HiFi, so if you want to read the full review, you can find that here. The Liric II was one of the stars of CanJam with many booths using the headphone to show off their desktop and home audio systems. As you may know, we loved the Liric II, and it was cool to see the rest of the industry in on it too. To recap, the headphone delivers a relaxed and neutral-warm sound signature that makes for a very pleasant listen. I’m sure it was also a favorite choice among booths due to its closed-back but open-feeling nature that makes it great for a showroom floor. 

Final Audio D7000: Like the Meze Liric II, Final Audio’s D7000 also made its debut at CanJam following a review here on Major Hifi. The D7000 is intended to sit beside the D8000 pro as a top of the line offering from Final. Utilizing a new Pina Align Diffuser, the D7000 packs new tech into a traditional package, keeping their design language from the D8000, albeit with a new matte black finish. Like the Liric II, we are fans of the D7000 and it was nice to see it get its big unveiling at CanJam this year. 


Campfire Audio's IEM offerings at CanJam NYC 2024

Campfire Audio Fathom: Over-ear headphones weren’t the only stars of the show this year. Several brands came prepared with new IEMs that I couldn’t wait to try. That said, we’re starting with another set that we’ve reviewed (you can read that review here). My impressions of the IEM are pretty positive. The soundstage feels natural, and the sound signature is right up my alley. With a neutral-warm presentation, I found the Fathom to be pleasing to listen to. I’m also a sucker for the color accents that are unique for a Campfire Audio product. 

Campfire Audio Black Star: I was just as excited to hear the Black Star, as it is not easy to find. To my ears, I actually found the Black Star to sound quite similar to the Fathom, though there are some differences. I found the Black Star to have a little more bass and a general sense of life that the Fathom doesn’t quite have. That said, I’m a fan of more relaxed sounding audio, so I actually preferred the Fathom’s more natural and laid back feeling. The design of the Black Star was quite impressive with its stainless steel housing and black PVD faceplates. Overall, I had a great experience at the Campfire Audio booth.

Astell & Kern / Empire Ears Novus: This was an exciting piece to listen to. The new collaboration between Astell & Kern and Empire Ears is a feast to behold. I have to start off by saying I’ve never felt an IEM that feels the way this does. They’re premium, beautiful, hefty but comfortable, and very expensive. Tech-wise, this IEM is a beast, boasting 13 drivers, including dual W9+ drivers for bass reproduction, five BA drivers (one from Sonion, and four proprietary NOVA Drivers by Knowles), four electrostatic drivers by Sonion, and two bone conductors by Sonion. The Novus gives off a lush soundstage and a visceral response that only dual subwoofer drivers and bone conductors can create. These are definitely worth experiencing if you have the chance. 

Astell & Kern and Empire Ears Novus IEM

DACs & Amps

Fiio K19: Fiio announced their new DAC/Amp just days before CanJam and I was happy to try it out on the floor. I tested it out with Fiio’s own FT5 headphones and found that this DAC/Amp was able to provide clean power with a balanced tonality. The K19 ditches the design of the K9 lineup with a new upright orientation that looks almost like an internet router. It also leaves physical controls behind for a menu system where you can control all of the device’s settings. Overall, it’s an elegant look and I appreciate the upright design which should theoretically reduce its desktop footprint. 

Fiio K19 DAC/Amp with Fiio FT9 headphones

Hifiman EF499/500: The new R2R DAC/amps from Hifiman were popular attendees of CanJam. I hadn’t tried them yet so I was really excited to get to hear them. Overall, they sound quite similar, though the soundstage and resolution of the 500 are a bit better. Of course, the EF500 uses a lite version of the Hymalaya DAC tech that you’ll find in more advanced Hifiman offerings which helps give it an edge over the EF499. Interestingly though, they both come with unique colorways with the EF499 sporting a beautiful black and gold finish and the EF500 sporting a more understated silver finish. The EF499 is probably the better value but if you want to get closer to the tech that Hifiman uses in their higher end models, the EF500 is definitely worth it. 

Hifiman EF1000: Speaking of Hifiman’s higher end models, I also got to try the brand’s EF1000 DAC and amplifier. Wow, what can I say? This DAC/Amp paired beautifully with the notoriously hard-to-drive Susvara’s. If you are a Summit-Fi listener with difficult-to-drive headphones, this pure Class A amp with a vacuum tube input stage may just be the perfect mix of tech and flavor you’ve been looking for.  

Hifiman EF1000 DAC/Amp with Hifiman Susvara headphones


Astell & Kern A&ultima SP3000t: Another treat that I got to try out at CanJam is the Astell & Kern A&ultima SP3000t DAP. Astell & Kern is an industry leader in the high-end DAP market for a reason: their software is snappy and works great, and their sound is excellent. The SP3000t is special because it actually has a tube inside the player. I tried this with the aforementioned Novus and was blown away by the performance. It’s incredible what portable audio is capable of these days and I can’t wait to see what’s yet to come in the field. 


Audio tech is getting more and more advanced, with product value getting better and better and form factors becoming much more ergonomic and well-designed. It was awesome to try some of the new releases and get an eye on what’s to come for the rest of the year. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. 

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